BLIZZARD

Dalton McGuinty hawking his wares

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

We hear lots about all-day kindergarten from Premier Dalton McGuinty, but many important issues in our $23-billion education budget are not being discussed in this election campaign. (ALEX UROSEVIC,  Toronto Sun)

We hear lots about all-day kindergarten from Premier Dalton McGuinty, but many important issues in our $23-billion education budget are not being discussed in this election campaign. (ALEX UROSEVIC, Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

How the mighty have fallen.

Here we have former premier Dalton McGuinty, the guy who spouted platitudes about morals and values, now a registered lobbyist working for a company that his government gave $3 million to.

And I’m supposed to be surprised?

Well, only so far as I thought there might have been an opening for a snake oil salesman.

Apparently not.

It also tells me that this guy is radioactive in the business world.

Here’s a guy with all the credentials — a criminal lawyer, former premier — and he ends up working for a company that owes him favours big time.

Look, I understand that everyone needs to make a living.

McGuinty has the right to work somewhere. His government had so many fingers in so many pies, there was a strong possibility there’d be a connection with one of them.

There are those who’ll point out that past premiers such as Bill Davis left Queen’s Park, went back to their law practices or whatever business they were in — and didn’t lobby. That may be true, but the fact is in the past there wasn’t a lobbyist registry, so we’ll never know what they got up to in their spare time.

In a written statement, McGuinty was careful not to mention the word lobbying, simply saying he was an “adviser” to the company Desire2Learn.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Mr. McGuinty contacted the integrity commissioner to ensure that he would be in full compliance with the rules.

“Mr. McGuinty arranged a briefing between D2L and senior education bureaucrats. That meeting was subsequently cancelled by D2L. Mr. McGuinty acknowledges that arranging such a meeting constitutes the need to register. Mr. McGuinty, as a private citizen and business person, will always ensure that he conducts himself in a transparent and forthright manner.”

Rules around lobbying require a one-year “cooling off” period for cabinet ministers before they can engage in this kind of work. McGuinty quit as premier in February 2013 and as MPP for Ottawa South in June of that year.

Then he disappeared from the face of the Earth.

We were given vague assurances he was, “teaching at Harvard.”

That conveniently kept him out of the public eye for as long as Premier Kathleen Wynne had a minority government.

It also kept him away from prying media during damaging testimony at Queen’s Park committees about the way his office wound down its business as he exited this place stage left.

Now, like Jaws II, he’s b-a-a-a-ck, resurfacing to hugs and air kisses from Wynne, on Throne Speech day.

We were told senior members of his staff had deleted their entire e-mail inboxes, allegedly in an attempt to cover-up what happened when they scrapped the gas plants.

The deletions were the subject of a scathing report by the provincial privacy commissioner and are now being probed by the OPP.

There’s also a police probe going on into the Ornge air ambulance fiasco, which saw millions of dollars flushed down the toilet in an attempt to privatize the air ambulance system.

You just wonder at a former premier being reduced to lobbying for a company his government gave cash to — in order to make ends meet.

It speaks volumes that Wynne hasn’t found him something a little more upmarket — head of a university, perhaps. Or a posting as agent general in some far-flung part of the world.

As it is, it just looks tacky for a former premier, once the most powerful politician in the province and arguably the second most powerful politician in the country, to be hawking his wares like a street trader in a grubby market. 


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